Collective Wisdom Exchange

Cover of Collective Wisdom white paper

Collective Wisdom: An Exploration of Library, Archives and Museum Cultures

Collective Wisdom Cohort Explores  Library, Archives and Museum Cultures

In 2016, a cohort of 18 librarians, archivists and museum professionals came together for the Collective Wisdom: Libraries, Archives and Museums (LAM) Conference Exchange to explore the practices and cultures of each other’s sectors. With the intent of increasing understanding and connection across the field, the group attended three major LAM sector conferences―AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, ALA Annual 2016 and Archives*Records 2016―as their primary venue of investigation.

Attending the annual meetings of the major professional organization for each LAM sector allowed cohort members to reflect on the similarities and differences in professional cultures; assess opportunities for cross-sector collaborations; network with allied information and cultural heritage professionals; and reflect on challenges, opportunities and best practices across the LAM sectors. Observations, reflections and recommendations from this rich experience are captured in the white paper Collective Wisdom: An Exploration of Library, Archives and Museum Cultures.



The cohort was charged to 1) Build stronger cross-sector relationships; 2) Increase understanding of sector cultures; and 3) Identify opportunities for collaborative continuing education or professional development.

  • Participants identified concerns that cut across all three professions, which include preservation and conservation; diversity, equity and inclusion; employment and workplace practices; sustainability (financial and environmental); and the need to become better advocates for ourselves as individuals, institutions, sectors and collectively across these sectors in order to secure needed resources and articulate our public value.
  • Participants examined opportunities for cross-sector collaboration, including graduate programs in library and information science and museum studies and smaller shared interest groups organized regionally across sectors.
  • Recommendations, ideas and actions for LAM cross-sector connection are provided in Appendix A, in a format inspired by Nexus LAB’s recent “Layers of Leadership” framework.

This project was part of the grant-funded and OCLC-managed Coalition to Advance Learning. Funding for conference travel expenses was made available for 12 of the cohort members through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Coalition to Advance Learning in Archives, Libraries and Museums.